Lorah-Kelly brought a word to our pastors meeting one morning, a simple word but one that would change our perspective as a church. She started by reading a verse from the book of Isaiah. “…the least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord, in its time I will do this swiftly.” – Isaiah 60:22
The Least of You
This could be talking about a small amount of people and could also mean the least of you as in Matthew 25:40 ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ At the time we were least in every possible way. Our attendance numbers were very low and at the same time we were reaching out intensively to homeless people and welcoming them into our church.
This could be talking about a small amount of people or literally the smallest or youngest children. Again, we were smallest in both senses of the word as we were small in numbers and the kids team were doing an excellent job in raising our little ones in kids’ church. Lorah-Kelly then went on to share another verse that has defined us. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” – Luke 4:18-19
The Blind and Prisoners
This is perhaps not literally blind or actual prisoners but those in bondage who need freedom. Later on that year, about six months after Lorah-Kelly shared this simple word with us, we could see how God was bringing it to pass. We did take some direction from these verses and did what we could to serve ‘the least and the small’ in our community. We made sure that we always considered the street people and made them feel welcome in our church services. On a practical level we invited them into the foyer before church, served them the best coffee possible, the nicest sandwiches and some scrumptious muffins.
From time to time people questioned our approach saying that we were silly to be spending so much money on these things, but we knew that it was vital that we served ‘the least’ as we would serve Jesus himself. Jesus did say that if we did it to one of the least of these we did it to Him.
We also touched them. This may sound like a silly thing to add but I can’t stress enough the importance of physical touch when loving people. Eric and I made a point, whenever we greeted someone in our church, to look them in the eye and to touch them in some way with a loving physical touch. This often meant hugging a smelly drunk from the street or shaking hands with someone that had clearly not washed their hands in weeks. Yes, it was difficult at first but we simply accepted it as something valuable that we did for the least. It was easy if you saw it as doing it to Jesus – we were hugging Jesus and we were shaking Jesus’ hand.
This is a chapter snippet from The Tale of a Church Planter, to buy a copy and find out what happened next in our adventures go here.